Both sides declared themselves content with their positions at the end of an intriguing fourth day at Lord’s, which ended with New Zealand 165 runs ahead with eight second-innings wickets in hand but with both Devon Conway, scorer of a first-innings double century, and their captain, Kane Williamson, falling in the final session to the English debutant Ollie Robinson.
The day started in the worst manner possible for England, Kyle Jamieson taking the wicket of Joe Root with the very first ball. They endured a torrid opening hour, crumbling from 111-2 overnight to 140-6 and at one stage losing three wickets for no runs in a little over three overs. But Rory Burns dragged the team to a respectable first-innings total of 275 before becoming the last man to fall, for 132.
“It was not the ideal start,” said Burns, who survived a straightforward stumping chance on 77 when BJ Watling fumbled, and was dropped in the slips on 88. “I think they bowled really well today, they dried it up quite a lot of the time, so it was a bit of a grind. To get to where we got to in the end made it quite a good day.”
The century marked a new peak in what has been a topsy-turvy year for Burns, which started with him missing the tour of Sri Lanka for the birth of his first child, Cora, followed by his being dropped for the final two Tests in India before playing his way back into the team with a good run of form for Surrey.
“My wife and Cora were here today, and it’s pretty special to get a hundred in front of them – not that Cora will remember it,” Burns said. “Getting dropped is not a nice thing but doing well on the next opportunity you’re given is. I got some good balls in India but you try to stay level. Today, you nick one, get dropped and you end up getting a hundred. It’s the flipside of the game, a double-edged sword at times.”
After the early rush of wickets New Zealand were held at bay as Burns built decent partnerships with Robinson, adding 63 for the seventh wicket, and with Jimmy Anderson, adding 52 for the last. The tourists ended the day in a dominant position but with time running out the timing of any possible declaration will be crucial and an excellent spell of bowling from England late in the day, with Robinson again outstanding, kept their run rate frustratingly low.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better start, but we knew there was going to be a counterpunch from England at some stage – they’re too good a side to just roll over,” said Tim Southee, who bowled exceptionally to take six wickets in an innings at Lord’s for the second time in his career. Since the start of 2018, Southee, 32, has taken exactly 100 wickets in 20 Tests at a phenomenal average of 21.7.
“Their lower-order put a bit of a blunt to our attack towards the end,” he added. “But if we’d turned up at the start of the day and been told we were going to walk off in the position we’re in now we’d have been pretty happy.”